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March for Life Draws Big Crowds, Stars

Image: March for Life Draws Big Crowds, Stars
Snow covers the hat of Father Jack Soler of New York during the March for Life 2016, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Jan. 22, 2016 in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Monday, 25 Jan 2016 09:20 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With the start Friday of what would become the biggest snowstorm to hit the nation’s capital since “Snowmageddon” in 2010, tens of thousands of Americans nonetheless participated in the annual March for Life.

But even more than their defiance of sub-zero temperatures and early snow to stand against abortion, what made the marchers for life in 2016 especially newsworthy was that, as in the marches of 2014 and ’15, teens and twentysomethings were a big part of the crowd.

Moreover, in what was widely characterized as a “Roman Catholic event” when it was first held in 1974 (one year after the Supreme Court’s controversial Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide), the March for Life in 2016 included far greater participation from evangelical Christians than in recent years.

“There’s a new generation of leadership among evangelicals and they are more involved in the spectrum of the life issue,” Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, told me during the rally that preceded the march to Capitol Hill.

He quoted one of the speakers at the rally, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, who stressed in his remarks that Catholics “who have been taking the leadership of the march for so many years are now gratified to be joined by evangelicals in such big numbers.”

The leading speaker at the rally on the mall at the Smithsonian Institution was freshman Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a favorite of the pro-life movement and an evangelical Christian. She was followed by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. a Roman Catholic and longtime fixture at the March for Life. (Possibly drawing more attention than any of the speakers was someone who didn’t speak but marched with others in the crowd: actor Kelsey Grammer. Accompanied by wife, Grammer, who most recently starred as a Rahm Emanuel-like Chicago mayor in the TV series “Boss,” freely posed for pictures throughout the trek from mall to Capitol Hill.)

Don Bartkoviak, a marcher and evangelical from Camp Hill, Penn., told me that “the role of evangelicals in the March for Life is greater than ever. Yesterday, there was a first-ever luncheon of Evangelicals for Life at the Hyatt Hotel here.”

Bartkoviak, 30, also emphasized the increasing involvement of younger people in the March for Life and the pro-life movement.

“The more the nature of abortion on demand becomes known, the more young people will gravitate toward the cause of life,” he said.

Bartkoviak’s view of an increasingly youthful pro-life movement in the 21st Century was strongly echoed by Mario Eduardo Dorsonville, Catholic bishop of Bogota Columbia.

“Part of this is the ‘Francis effect’ — the ability of Pope Francis to connect with young people and spread the word of life,” the bishop told me after presiding over a “Mass for Life” at Washington D.C.’s St. Matthew’s Cathedral. “And there is also a growing awareness among the young of the nature and importance of life itself. Things are changing.”

The young crowd was evident by many of the marchers of different faiths. Numerous sectarian high schools and colleges throughout the country sent contingents of young marchers to Washington. From Florida International University came about 20 members of the “Catholic Panthers,” a campus group that attends daily Mass and is involved in community service such as providing food for the disabled and the homeless.

“I’m here for my first march because I think life is important,” said sophomore “Panther” Aida Guadeloupe, “It’s important because the unborn need someone to fight for them. They can’t speak for themselves.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2018 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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With the start Friday of what would become the biggest snowstorm to hit the nation’s capital since “Snowmageddon” in 2010, tens of thousands of Americans nonetheless participated in the annual March for Life.
march for life, grammer
Monday, 25 Jan 2016 09:20 AM
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